By Mike Wilcox
As we gave thanks during Turkey Day, I could only hope the men and women we elected to represent us in Congress were offering gratitude to a constituency that has provided them with unlimited power and perks.
I am filled with gratitude for family, friends and readers who surround me with love and affection. But I have nothing but disdain for those elected so-called leaders who continue to abuse their power.
I have long railed against Congress’ lack of work ethic. For instance, when the rest of us had a long weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday, Congress took off an entire week. Members came back Monday for another 15 days of work, at which time they will recess until the new year. Who among us has a job like that?
The answer is almost no one. Out of 365 days in a year, our elected representatives only work 133. That’s a little more than four months. The average American with two weeks vacation works 240 days. Many of us work more.
In the next two weeks Congress has to address new tax legislation and extend federal spending that runs out on Dec. 8. The tax overhaul proposed by President Trump and approved by the House has not yet been voted on by the Senate. If they expect it to be on the president’s desk before Christmas, they have a lot of work to do in the next two weeks.
But that issue pales, in my opinion, to what was uncovered last week. Reports indicate a secret slush fund exists allowing elected and appointed officials accused of sexual harassment and similar deeds to pay out settlement money.
The fund, established in 1997, has paid more than $17 million to 235 accusers. That hush money comes out of your and my pockets. That’s right, the wrongful sexcapades our officials partake in carry no penalties, monetarily or otherwise, for them because the money comes from us, the taxpayers.
I find that disgusting. If you want to grope a female staf-fer, you should have to pay from your own wallet — and face your critics when your misdeeds are made public.
As it is, no one knows which officials have used the slush fund to pay accusers. That’s not right. I hope over the next few weeks their names are made public.
Longtime U.S. Rep. John Conyers is feeling the heat. The 88-year-old has been accused by two women claiming sexual harassment. It has been reported Conyers paid $27,000 to one accuser to keep her quiet. Oops, I stand corrected. He didn’t pay, our taxpayer dollars paid.
Beyond the $17 million paid from the secret fund, a couple more million have probably been paid from officeholders’ funds. This is ludicrous. We as taxpayers must demand transparency from these pompous power mongers who take our money to pay off their drunken sexcapades. We should demand that names of every official who has used the secret and officeholders’ funds to pay for their indiscretions be published.
No more taxpayers’ money should be used to bail out lawmakers. You have a problem? Use your own money. Most of them are millionaires five times over. They can spare the cash they need to pay off those who suffered physical and emotional pain from their wrongful acts.